‘Invest to end TB’ and save lives

March 10, 2022

In 2020, 10m people around the world contracted tuberculosis, and despite it being a preventable and curable disease, 1.5m people died from TB, making it the top infectious killer, according to World Health Organization.

The government’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs 2017-2022 ends soon and a new NSP is being developed in the context of the pandemic that affected the country’s TB response.

The Department of Health (DOH) is renewing focus on TB awareness and treatment in light of the new NSP, the loss of focus on TB during the pandemic, and World TB Day on 24 March which was themed ‘Invest to End TB. Save Lives’.

In the interests of joining this initiative and increasing awareness, Pple Healthcare brings you updated information for sharing with those who may benefit from it.

About TB
TB is caused by germs spread from person to person through the air when someone with TB coughs, sneezes, or speaks. The germs can stay in the air for several hours depending on the environment. TB usually affects the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body.

TB screening
TB screening is free at clinics throughout SA. If you know someone who has these symptoms, encourage them to visit their clinic for screening:
• A cough for 2 weeks or more
• Drenching night sweats
• Unexplained weight loss
• Fever for 2 weeks or more

The link between TB and Covid-19
People with TB may have weak immune systems and be at greater risk of getting infected with Covid, and their symptoms are likely to be more severe.

Symptoms of TB and Covid are similar, but Covid symptoms start suddenly. Sore throat, nausea and vomiting, and loss of smell and taste are associated with Covid and not TB. Both are transmitted by droplets, but Covid is also found on surfaces and is more contagious than TB.

TB is treated with six months of antibiotics, while there’s no current treatment for Covid-19.
People can get Covid while on TB treatment and to avoid this, good hygiene measures should be practiced.

TB and HIV
TB is closely linked to HIV and is the leading cause of illness and death among people with HIV, who should be screened regularly for TB. Likewise, TB patients should have an HIV test.

If a person is found to have TB, they must take their treatment of antibiotics for the full 6 months, even if they feel better. Patients often stop taking medication because they feel better, but TB is still in their bodies and it gets worse.

Control of TB
People with TB need to take responsibility for their illness and prevent transmission to others.
• Cover mouth when coughing or sneezing
• Cough into a tissue or inside of elbow
• Throw used tissues in a dustbin
• Open windows and doors at home and in crowded areas to reduce TB transmission

More information
Information can be found on the DOH website and on the WHO’s website.